MLB

Knockahoma Nation Episode 69

This week Josh and Ken go hard in the paint at some Braves bloggers. They discuss the political divide of baseball. Why do old school guys hate the analytics crowd? Why is the analytics crowd so rude and condescending to the old school crowd?

They also talk about Trump.

No animals were harmed in the recording of this gluten-free podcast, but we can’t promise about your feelings.

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Baseball is a basic bitch

4 bases, 1 ball, 9 defenders, 1 batter. A pitcher throws the ball. A batter attempts to hit the ball and then attempts to circle the bases while the defense tries to stop him.

Baseball’s already not very complex. And to make it even less complex and basic, these days it primarily involves just two plays – the home run and the strikeout. Baseball has become a basic bitch.

I know. It’s sacrilegious to throw shade at our beloved game, but allow me to explain. Compared to football, there is little-to-no strategy involved in a baseball game. Yes, I know what a double shift is, and I understand pitching changes, and I get that managing a bullpen is a thing. But if your most complex strategic decision is a double switch, then I’m sorry, the play by play strategic planning is not very complex. And don’t get me started on lineups. Sure, setting a lineup is a task and we can debate what a “true lead-off hitter” is, but I just don’t think a lineup order has that much of an effect on a team’s season.

The complexity of baseball doesn’t come from the strategies of the individual play. If you put Nick Saban in a baseball dugout, he’d be bored. If you put Brian Snitker on the sidelines of an Alabama football game with the task of managing and calling plays, his brain would implode. The complexity of baseball comes from the players themselves.

To plan and execute a defensive formation in football is a science. Each player works together and relies on each other and if each working part executes the play the way that it was designed to work, it works. The football player does exactly what he’s told and then relies on his athletic ability. (Unless, of course you’re Brett Favre, then you do what you want, but that’s a totally different column. You get the point.) Football is moving, fluid, and very dynamic. While baseball is, well, basic. In baseball, there is no sign coming from the manager to run the old Spider 2 Y Banana.

The baseball player isn’t told anything. Sure, he watches some video and he might read a scouting report and sure he’s sometimes given orders from the dugout. But for the most part, the baseball player is all alone, in the batters box, or on the mound. The mental agony and pressures are all on him, and once he rises to the occasion, adjustments are then made to him by the defense at which point he must adjust to the adjustments made to him. The player is coach, player, and coordinator all at the same time in a matter of a single at bat.

This is why there’s five levels of minor league baseball and there’s no minor league football.

A ballplayer can get drafted from one of the power-house college programs (Vandy for example) and still be three years away from the big leagues. And even when said player makes “The Show” he’s often worked in very slowly. Perhaps he’s brought up in September and asked to pinch hit and/or fill in when the everyday player at his respective position needs a day off. A football player can get drafted and then start on opening day that same year. Baseball is hard. It’s not complex, but it’s hard. Where the game of football is more complex, but easier mentally and emotionally on the individual level, baseball is less complex but more difficult mentally and emotionally on the individual level.

Back to baseball being a basic bitch.

Baseball’s more about the guy on the field than the game. Yeah, I know, this makes me sound like an anti-analytics old geezer, but I’m not blown away by Statcast or wRC+. It’s neat, I’ll grant you, but all you’re doing is quantifying and recording what we’ve been watching since the 1870’s. A guy hits a bomb. Now you can tell me how hard he hit the bomb and the exact angle at which the ball is traveling through the air over the fence. Neat.

Think of it this way, if I told you a woman’s ass was 37 inches wide is that good or bad? Does it make you dream of that ass by simply knowing it’s 37 inches wide? I mean 37 inches could be a great ass, or it could be a not so great ass. (and yes I realize I’m an ass but bear with me). You need to know the entire picture. If you know she’s 34-26-37 you might now have a better picture, but even that isn’t really a picture, it is still just stats. I mean, I can sit here and tell you she’s 34-26-37 and you might think, wow she could be really hot based off those numbers. Or I could just say, “J-Lo.”

For years, the story of baseball has been the player. And because of that, superstars were born from it. Kids grew up idolizing Snider, Mantle, Aaron, Killebrew, Gibson, Koufax, Feller, The Big Red Machine, Stargell, Schmidt. These days J.D. Martinez wouldn’t be recognized by most kids in a mall. Why? Because Major League Baseball is marketing the metrics and not the guy. And to make it even worse, it’s marketing one thing – the home run.

Bryce Harper is hitting .214 and was virtually the face of the All-Star game. Why? Because our beloved game has been watered down to the home run. Am I saying home runs are the spawn of Satan? Of course not. Dingers are fun. But for a long time the home run was special and hitting in other ways, being a more well-rounded player, was something to take pride in. In 2018, if you ONLY hit home runs, you’ve got a guaranteed big pay day.

I’m not here to argue the merits of a player with a similar offensive profile as Bryce Harper’s 2018 campaign. I’m sure you could explain to me that, based on his wRC+, even though he does not hit for average, he is actually very valuable to his team. I don’t care. What I’m telling you is, watching an All-Star Game that involves nothing but home runs and strikeouts is boring.

And yes, I saw the precious Twitter video of Pedro talking about how great the game is and where the game is heading and I saw Brandon McCarthy‘s quote of said Twitter video. That’s precious. Why are ticket sales down? Because baseball is marketing the metrics, not the guy.

Am I saying that we should interfere and fix this? Hell no. That’s the weird thing. Baseball fixes itself and should never be interfered with by mere mortals under any circumstances. If I read another damn “How can we fix baseball” article I’ll break my laptop. This is a phase and guys like me will bitch about baseball being a basic bitch and that’s a beautiful thing.

We must change ourselves, not the game. Let us teach our children how to hit like Tony Gwynn and block the plate like Johnny Bench. Let’s start there.

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 63

Greetings, Knockahoma Nation. Do we care about Brian Snitker‘s bullpen management? Do we care about Liberty Media’s involvement in the financials of the Atlanta Braves? Do we care about what the Braves might do by the trade deadline? We do not. Why? Because the Atlanta Braves are in first place.

This week we discuss deep complex issues like Dansby Swanson, pop country and why Jonathan Howard is still single. We don’t have an answer for the latter.

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 62

WELCOME TO THE KNOZARKS.

What a time to be alive. The Atlanta Braves are in first place and Charlie Culberson keeps hitting walk-off dingers. Are you not entertained?

This week we have one of our favorite pals on Twitter and one of Josh’s favorite actors on the show.

Ryan Cothran writes for Walk Off Walk, a Braves blog that we love. Josh spends approximately 12 hours per week trolling Ryan for his questionable baseball takes. Ryan spent most of the off-season pontificating on Twitter how the Atlanta Braves were going to trade Nick Markakis. He never deleted these tweets, and now Josh reminds him of this.

We also have Atlanta-based actor Kevin Johnson on the show. Kevin plays Sam the real estate agent on the popular Netflix show Ozark. The show stars Jason Bateman, but we think it stars Kevin Johnson (or KJ as we like to call him) because Kevin is a huge Braves fan and Jason likes the Dodgers. Kevin gives us the inside scoop on how he landed the Ozark job, how his character Sam was created, and when Season 2 of Ozark is expected to hit Netflix.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher. Enjoy the show!

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Knockahoma Nation Episode 61

If you enjoy baseball and laughing, we encourage you to listen to this week’s replacement-level Knockahoma Nation baseball podcast. This week we’re joined by one of our favorites on Twitter, Natasha from Los Angeles Dodgers podcast The Real Housewives of Chavez Ravine.

As purveyors of humor, we think Natasha might be the funniest person in the state of California. We discuss very important things with Natasha like why Rich Hill is hot and how sexy Chase Utley is. Natasha also gives us a scouting report on the Dodgers for the upcoming Braves/Dodgers series.

Josh and Ken also take a quick look into Braves Country and probably talk about Jonathan Howard a little too much.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher. Enjoy the show!

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Episode 56 – Knockahoma Nation Podcast

The days of Ronald Acuña are upon us, Knockahoma Nation. Also, Ozzie Albies is really good, Johan Camargo needs to start, Austin Riley is tearing it up, and much more. This week the boys are joined by Ken’s father in law, Pastor and former College baseball coach Robbie Jones, and Josh and Ken remind folks what this podcast is all about.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher. Enjoy the show!

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Episode 48 – Knockahoma Nation Podcast

This week on the podcast the boys make a very special announcement, and they’re joined by the newest member of Walk Off Walk, Brittni Swanson.

Brittni recently came onto the Braves writing scene with an outstanding article about how the pressure the Braves put on Dansby didn’t really help him. Check it out here.

We also recap the FO meetings the Braves had with the players recently. Legend has it that Anthopoulos and his guys sat down with some Braves players and went over some analytics with them via PowerPoint.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher.

P.S. Make sure you knuckleheads support our buddies Doc and Dylan. These two of these knuckleheads (who’ve both been guests on the show) have started their own podcast called The Platinum Sombrero Podcast. It’s killer.

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Episode 45 – Knockahoma Nation Podcast


This week on the Knockahoma Nation replacement-level baseball podcast, the boys are without any guests for the first time in a few weeks. Translation – They’re left to their own devices.

Topics of discussion this week:

  • Lane Adams’ elementary understanding of basic economic principles
  • Just because the owner of your baseball team is a billionaire doesn’t mean that you should get paid whatever number you and Scott Boras want
  • MLB players haven’t been overpaid in at least the last 40 years
  • Baseball at the Winter Olympics?
  • And much, much more!

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Baseball players don’t care about you

Baseball players don’t care about you. It’s not their job to care about you, or your family. Jerry Seinfield says it best when he makes the joke about how baseball fans just cheer for clothes.

Sure, sometimes there’s a hometown kid drafted by their hometown team and because you can truly relate to that local ballplayer, you are a fan of them instantly. Said player might be involved with local charities. He might have grown up rooting for the very team that now employs him. So, because said player grew up being a fan of the very team that you’re a fan of, and because said player now plays for said team, you’re more of a fan of him than, let’s say, the guy who’s on a one-year deal.

But, that’s rare. More times than not, because of free agency and trades, baseball teams are made up of guys who are on that baseball team because their job is to play baseball. Baseball is their trade. They’re being paid to do their job. And, more times than not, they’re on their respective team because that’s the team that has offered them (and their agent) the most money. Not because they love the fans. Not because they love the city. Not because they are a fan of your favorite team. Bartolo Colon didn’t have an affinity towards Atlanta. Neither did B.J. Upton, or even the great Greg Mddux. And sure, R.A. Dickey was a Nashville guy, but the only reason he came to Atlanta was because they paid him millions of dollars to be an okay pitcher every fifth day.

This is the cold hard truth. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be a baseball fan. It doesn’t mean that nothing matters and that you cannot get emotionally invested into something greater than yourself that you cannot control. It means that baseball players don’t care about you. They don’t necessarily hate you (unless you’re that weirdo who travels from park to park in an attempt to collect as many baseballs as humanly possible). They just don’t care about you. They don’t make their decisions on or off the field with you in mind.

Baseball fans are a needy group of folks. We like to pretend that we’re purely analytical without any type of emotional capacity. But we need to feel appreciated. We want players to love us and appreciate us just like we love and appreciate them. We even hinge our own moods and reputations to the success or failures of an athelete’s play or his public perception.

We want this so badly, in fact, that the smallest act of kindness from a baseball player lightens our world. A baseball player tossing our son or daughter a used game baseball (that he did not pay for) can influence our opinion about a guy instantly. You’ve heard someone tell a story like this, for sure. “I love so-and-so because back in 2010 he threw my kid a baseball.” Because of that tiny measly moment, which the baseball player forgot 5 minutes later, you and your kids are now a fan of that player for life. You buy his jersey. Your passwords and login info are changed to the guy’s first name and whatever year it was that he threw your kid a baseball. You troll anyone on the internet who ever lifts a virtual finger against the player who threw your kid a baseball back in 2010. How dare someone slander such a heroic and selfless human being? If they knew him, they wouldn’t say such disrespectful things.

Imagine if our standards for each other were at the same level as our standards for baseball players. Freddie Freeman threw your kid a game-used baseball (that he didn’t pay for) five years ago and since then every time Freddie Freeman’s name comes up in a conversation you’re going to let everyone know, “Freddie Freeman is the nicest guy ever. He threw my kid a baseball five years ago when the Mets were in town.”

Apply that to your next door neighbor and think about how weird that would be. Just imagine. When Norm pulled into his driveway yesterday when he got home work he threw my son Eddie some of his grass clippings as he walked inside. He didn’t stop to talk, but it meant so much. He just didn’t have to do that! My neighbor on the other side of my house never throws Eddie any of his grass clippings. But Norm did. Norm’s now Eddie’s favorite neighbor and we’ve named our chocolate lab Norm.

Baseball players don’t care about you. Dexter Fowler didn’t care about Cubs fans so much that he went to their competitor, after him and his wife “prayed about it”, because the Cardinals gave him millions of dollars. Roger Clemens went to Yankees because he didn’t care about Red Sox fans. Tom Glavine played for the Mets because they offered him more money than Atlanta.

At this point, there’s a good chance that you’re thinking about Chipper Jones. Chipper Jones is a unicorn. They don’t exist. Cherish him, but know that the only loyalty that is constant in your life is the loyalty of your friends and family. Baseball players are not your friends and family.

Baseball players don’t care about you. This is the first step in becoming an emotionally self-sufficient baseball fan.

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Episode 44 – Knockahoma Nation Podcast

On episode 44 of Knockahoma Nation, Prospects Matter Summit (part 3) – we’re rejoined by Doc Herbert (@BravesHerbert), Dylan Short (@DylanXShort) and Andy Harris (@K26DP) to talk about Braves most overrated and underrated Atlanta Braves prospects.

Also on this week’s podcast, philosopher Ken discusses the parts of a story and Josh and Ken imagine extra innings under Rob Manfred’s rules.

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